Watch the Mane Attraction: Reviews of Secretariat and High Noon

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, I offered insight on two of the finest films on Netflix.

This week, we’re headed to the stables to take a look at movies featuring everyone’s second favorite four-legged animal, the horse. By request, I’ll offer some thoughts on Disney’s Secretariat. Also, I’ll take a look at the Gary Cooper classic High Noon.

SECRETARIAT (PG, 123 minutes – featuring Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Fred Dalton Thompson)

When I think about Secretariat, I can’t help but remember the stunning horse-racing sequences. No matter the medium, a good horse race will always catch my attention. The filmmakers should be thankful for the fact that these scenes worked. When I say thankful, I mean thankful.

Without the horse racing, Secretariat amounts to nothing more than the typical melodrama found on the Hallmark Channel. I found some merit with the performances, but the film struggles early on to find its narrative footing. Is this truly a story worth telling? The last 45 minutes seem to indicate so. If you can stomach a little Disney-approved inspiration alongside a slightly overlong runtime, this film warrants a viewing.

Now, let’s look at a film where the horses serve as transportation instead of entertainment.

HIGH NOON (NR*, 84 minutes – featuring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges)

High Noon refuses to go down in history as anything else but a classic Western. Two-time Academy Award winner Gary Cooper, unarguably one of the greatest actors of all time, gives a demanding performance as Will Kane, a retiring Marshal who must garner courage to face an old enemy. Director Fred Zinnemann gives Cooper the perfect stage – a world where Kane, forsaken of all help, must solemnly walk alone into his possible doom. It’s a striking portrayal of true, unflinching grit in the face of evil.

Despite the high quality of the work, some viewers might be afraid to watch an entire film in black-and-white.

Please don’t let the cinematography turn you away. Titles like High Noon set out the blueprints for the films we love today. If you want to see where modern-day adventure and drama gained inspiration, watch the classics. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also fantastic films.

High Noon really is something special, largely in part to Cooper’s portrayal of a truly courageous individual. If you love a good Western, here’s your movie.

And if the theme song doesn’t get stuck in your head, I don’t know what will.

*I would equate this film to about a PG rating. There’s a little violence, but that’s about it.

So, what do you think?

Am I being too hard on Secretariat? Are you affected by black-and-white cinematography? Does it really matter to you? Let me know in the comments section.

For next week, I’ve offered a poll to see which genre I should focus on. Be sure to cast your vote!

As always, if you’d like to see a certain movie reviewed, let me know. I’ll feature it with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic

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  1. I personally like black and white classic movies so I will have to look into this western. The last good western I watched was “true Grit” both the original with John Wayne and the new one with Jeff Bridges.

  2. I love that when I read this I feel as though I am watching the movie as you review each. You have a knack for writing, and you clearly understand the syle used for the standard movie review (though may I emphasize that your review is not “standard”). I took a creative writing class not long ago, and for almost one month we focused solely on writing film reviews. I am by no means an expert on the medium, but because of the class have developed an appreciation for mastery of the writing style. You seem to have mastered the stlye, which is why I loved reading this post.

  3. You clearly know a lot about movies! In each of your reviews I can really see how passionate you are about what you write. I have not seen High Noon but I sure am glad to have your insight about it! I can’t wait to see what movies you write about next week!

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